Nobody wants to look old and faded and that is exactly what is going to happen pretty soon to any device not running the new Android version 5.0 Lollipop.
With the launch of Android Lollipop the biggest visible change to Android over the last few years is being rolled out. The ‘Material’ UI design extends the metaphor of ’cards’ across the platform, as well as the smart use of whitespace, transitions and grid based layouts. Lollipop is also designed to give users a consistent look and feel across the OS and the applications. In theory this is true of Android today, but the roll-out of Material design will force developers of popular apps to consider the design of their app’s user interface. If they don’t update the look to the Material design, the app will look tired and old, and the competitive environment of the App Stores will see the app lose popularity. Material design is about updating the look of Android and giving a sense of progress and momentum to the platform. But it’s also about creating a step-change, as opposed to an incremental change, that forces developers who are updating existing popular apps or launching new apps to start over again with the new design rulebook that gets everyone on the same page.
I expect this strategy to succeed for three reasons:
What happens to devices that are still shipping with KitKat? These devices will look dated in comparison to devices that are running Lollipop - especially with updated apps running on them. In order to generate sales of new devices every OEM must have an upgrade strategy, especially for devices that are shipping during the holiday period with KitKat installed. This is also true for ‘old’ (6-18 months) devices that do not want to lose their edge in this highly-competitive market. Staying relevant is the key to customer loyalty and customer loyalty is the key to new sales. To the manufacturers I say – take charge and lead from the front; and to the consumers I say – never stop demanding the latest and greatest!